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Looking older carries health risks

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Time is never kind to anyone. Crow's feet, wrinkles, creases near ear lobes, bumpy deposits on eyelids always betray one's true age. Now, these indicators of the passage of time may now be linked to heart disease, according to Danish researchers.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A study involving 11,000 Danish adults have highlighted the difference between biological and chronological age.

"Looking old for your age marks poor cardiovascular health," Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark says. The lead researcher shared her results this week an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

One bright side of the report says that wrinkles elsewhere on the face and gray hair appear to be just ordinary consequences of aging and did not correlate with heart risks.

Research began as far away as in 1976. Researchers at first documented people's appearance, counting crow's feet, wrinkles and other signs of age.

In the meantime, 3,400 participants over the years developed heart disease (clogged arteries), and 1,700 suffered a heart attack.

Each additional sign of aging present at the start of the study led to increased health risks. This proved trued at all ages among men and women, even after taking into account other factors such as family history of heart disease.

All in all, subjects with three to four of these aging signs, including receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of the head, earlobe creases or yellowish fatty deposits around the eyelids had a 57 percent greater risk for heart attack and a 39 percent greater risk for heart disease compared to people with none of these signs.

Yellowish eyelid bumps can be signs of cholesterol buildup, researchers found. This indicator proved the biggest risk. Baldness in men has been tied to heart risk before, possibly related to testosterone levels. They could only guess why earlobe creases might raise risk.

Dr. Kathy Magliato, a heart surgeon at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, said doctors need to pay more attention to signs literally staring them in the face.

"We're so rushed to put on a blood pressure cuff or put a stethoscope on the chest" that obvious, visible signs of risk are missed, she said.

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